ONE STEP FROM HELL

 

13933This is not as many collectors thought a spaghetti western, but an action adventure movie, set during the early 1900,s. Ty Hardin is cast in the role of a British Colonial Policeman, Lieutenant King Edwards (sorry if that should make anyone think of potatoes) an unfortunate name for the leading character but hey, the movie was a pretty solid adventure yarn and also starred respected actors Rossano Brazzi and George Sanders. Directed by Nino Scolaro and Sandy Howard, this Italian, Spanish and American co-production tells the story of a policeman’s pursuit of a band of killers who have escaped from prison and whilst doing so take a hostage Piers Angeli, who provided the love interest within the story. Edwards pursues the killers over sprawling and desolate plains in Southern Africa and tackles wild and untamed countryside that is as the title of the movie suggests, ONE STEP FROM HELL. The musical score for the movie was composed by Italian Maestro Gianni Marchetti, sadly although being a more than original and talented composer of film scores; Marchetti still to this day remains almost unknown outside of Italian film music collecting circles.
The composer worked steadily on many Italian produced films throughout the 1960,s and also into the 1970,s providing these with scores that were not only perfectly shaped to the needs of the movie but contained an abundance of composition that managed to have a life away from the film for which they were intended to enhance.
Marchetti utilised a symphonic sound for the majority of his assignments but infused and bolstered this with an almost pop or up-beat style that was akin to the sound and style that was being utilized in many Spaghetti westerns etc. Marchetti pairing electric guitar with driving percussion, brass and strings to create some tantalising and effective film music moments. His score for ONE STEP TO HELL could easily be at first listen mistaken for an Italian western soundtrack, but after one begins to explore the music more deeply it yields up an eclectic sound that encompasses many styles and incorporates a plethora of instrumentation. Harmonica player Franco De Gemini, features throughout the work producing some fine musical interludes and moments as does a solo female soprano, but I do not think that on this occasion it is Edda Dell Orso.

The score begins with a rousing and infectious theme, brass and timpani combine with underlying strings and woodwind to create a sweeping and almost romantic sound, add to this Female vocal and we have an entertaining and haunting beginning to the compact disc. Track two is completely different from the opening, it leads with a slightly subdued introduction from the string section which is short lived as the composition launches into a full on and urgent cue where throbbing African sounding drums take the lead, these are punctuated by brass stabs which are almost big band sounding in style, harpsichord is added to the equation as the brass play out a pulsating theme which is almost continually accompanied by the percussion creating an atmosphere that is exciting and dramatic. Track three is for me personally the one closest to the sound of the Spaghetti western, it starts with a martial sounding beat being played lightly on drums, this is accompanied by woods and then overwhelmed by a flourish from the strings, brass again makes an entrance this time mirrored by a bass guitar, strings then segue into the proceedings along with bursts of harpsichord and faint woodwind, the timpani all the time gaining momentum in the background until it eventually becomes foreground and then the music lulls for a few moments, timpani is re-introduced alongside electric guitar which themselves then act as background to a brief interlude from female voice.
African sounding drums then return to beat out a slow but rhythmic musical passage that brings the cue to its conclusion. Track four, is another great composition that has a infectious rhythm, again percussion is utilised to create a sound that is obviously African sounding but highly rhythmic and laced with flourishes from harpsichord and brass which rises and falls giving the percussion support, depth and even more musicality, these elements act as a background to a solo flute which picks out the now established central theme from the score. Track six, is a more upbeat affair, pulsating drums hammer out a tense and near frantic backing to big band brass which is also quite tense in its presentation and performance. I think if I was asked to describe the sound that is achieved here by Gianni Marchetti, I would have to say it is a score that has elements of the sound of the spaghetti western genre, combined with the easy listening lounge sound of Italian cinema and the grandeur and romanticism of Hollywood and Cinecitta combined. In essence a must have soundtrack an essential purchase for any fan of the Italian film music Maestro’s. Presented well by Lionel Woodmans ever industrious label, Hillside with a great front cover and also another illustration inside that can double as a front cover, the liner has no notes but is filled with colourful stills from the movie. The sound is amazing and in full stereo. I do urge you to buy this score and if you have yet to discover the originality and infectious compositions of Gianni Marchetti, this is a perfect introduction and once you have been introduced you will want more of this composers soundtracks in your collection. Maybe now SEVEN RED BERETS will receive the compact disc release it deserves along side numerous scores by Marchetti that are lying in dusty vaults waiting to be given a new lease of life. Highly recommended.

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1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO.

released in 2013 on BEAT records.

1000  DOLLARI SUL NERO.

(AKA  BLOOD AT SUNDOWN)

 Layout 1Released in 1966, 1000 DOLLARI SULL NERO was not only an entertaining piece of cinema but also it was to become a key production within the genre of the Italian produced western. This was the movie that introduced us to the character SARTANA or at least the name of a character that became one of the prominent protagonists within the genre and one that would feature in a number of later productions. The Sartana featured in 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO however is not a real pre-cursor to the Sartana that we all know and love, this character is a violent and unmerciful being that lashes out and utilizes cruelty and spills blood to achieve his goals in life.  Gianni Garko proves that he is an actor of worth with his portrayal of the blonde haired, blue eyed sadist; his performance is more than convincing as the bad guy of the story   assuming the identity of his character wonderfully not merely portraying the character but becoming the unsavoury individual taking the performance to a higher level. The films central character Johnny Liston is played by Antonio De Teffe, who under the alias of Antony Steffen starred in a number of westerns. Steffen is a perfect pairing with Garko the two actors bouncing off of each other to create a wonderful atmosphere and infuse a sense of reality to the films storyline. Liston has served twelve years in prison after being wrongly accused of murder. After his release he returns to his birthplace, the village of Campos. He discovers that the entire village is terrorized by his Brother Sartana (Gianni Garko), who to add insult to injury has also taken Johnny’s fiancée Manuela (Angelica Ott) as his lover. Sartana is acting as a dictator of sorts who intimidates, exploits and robs the villagers and people living in the surrounding countryside and aided by his band of cut-throats and bandits rules the area with a grip of iron. He also takes great delight in mistreating Manuela beating her and abusing her mentally and physically, whilst at the same time he persecutes her mute Brother Jerry, whipping him and ridiculing him ruthlessly.  Liston decides that he must find out who framed him for the murder and also why he has been made to feel so un-welcome in his own village. He is disgusted and sickened by the actions of his Brother and attempts to put a stop to his Siblings malicious and brutal ways. But, he receives no support from the villagers who are all terrified of Sartana. Johnny even tries to enlist the help of his own Mother, (Carla Calo) but she shuns him telling him that he is weak, favouring his Brother whom she idolises. Johnny’s only real ally is Jerry the mute Brother of Manuela.  Because they are Brothers neither Johnny nor Sartana wants to directly strike at the other, so a struggle of wills ensues until their Mother dies and then the fight begins in earnest.  Directed by Alberto Cardone under the name of Albert Cardiff, 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO was the second western that Cardone made in 1966, the other SETTE DOLLARI SULL ROSSO which also starred Anthony Steffen is another fine example of the Italian western genre, the two films although having titles that could be conceived to be related were actually not content connected at all. The director who is in the opinion of many highly underrated began his career in film in 1945; he worked at first as a second unit director or assistant director on a number of movies, which included BEN HUR in 1959. He was responsible for three more Italian westerns, these were, L’IRA DI DIO, (THE WRATH OF GOD) IL LUNGO GIORNO DEL MASSACRO (LONGS DAYS OF KILLING) and 20,000 DOLLARI SPORCHI DI SANGUE (THE KIDNAPPING). All of which were worthy and interesting additions to the genre that was to become known as the Spaghetti western.

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He also co-directed two other westerns which were produced in Germany during 1964. The director decided to leave the genre behind in 1968, moving onto to be second unit director on Roger Vadim’s sexy space adventure BARBARELLA, but returned to the western in 1970 when he acted as second unit director on EL CONDOR, which starred Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown.  Cardone enjoyed a busy and fruitful career as director, assistant director, editor and screen writer up until his death in 1977. The music for 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO is the work of talented composer/performer Michele Lacerenza, the Maestro is probably best known for his solo trumpet performances within numerous Italian western scores but as a composer in his own right he was responsible for helping to create the “sound” that we all now associate with the Spaghetti western.  He scored four out of the five Italian westerns that were directed by Alberto Cardone and placed his unmistakable musical identity upon each one. Lacerenza although known too many soundtrack collectors was underrated as a composer and also in the opinion of many under utilized.

The score for 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO, is a perfect example of Italian western music, it contains many of the now established musical trademarks that are acknowledged as stock sounds within the genre. The score is energetic and infectious, the composer creating a firm foundation for the remainder of the soundtrack via his haunting TEMA DI JOHNNY, in which Lacerenza performs trumpet solo. This particular cue appeared on a handful of compilations of Italian western music that were released firstly on long playing vinyl and then in later years on compact disc. JOHNNY’S THEME and also the song from the movie, NECKLACE OF PEARLS performed by Peter Boom were also issued on a CAM records single 45rpm (AMP 12) at the time of the films release, both were conducted and arranged by another popular Italian film music composer Berto Pisano.  The flawless trumpet solo is augmented and punctuated by the use of organ, subdued percussion, strummed guitar and castanet’s, which together create an ambience that just oozes Spaghetti western. The theme appears on a number of occasions throughout the score, but the composer orchestrates and arranges it differently on each outing, thus the music remains fresh and vibrant every time. In a number of ways the orchestration on the score can be likened to the instrumentation on Sante Maria Romitelli,s SPARA GRINGO SPARA making one think that maybe the conductor of the main score on 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO Luigi Zito, had an influence or input as he also conducted the Romitelli score.  Lacarenza fuses neo classical sound with a pop orientated style that at times evokes the guitar groups of the 1960,s such as The Shadows or The Ventures. Electric guitar accompanied by racing snare drums, harmonica, strings and woodwind are further embellished by percussion and organ all of which are drawn together by Lacerenza’s masterful trumpet playing.

MICHELE LACERENZA

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Born in Taranto, Puglia, Italy on January 7th 1922. Michele Lacerenza was to become one of the most important musicians to be connected with the Italian cinema and in- particular the Italian western. Like Alessandroni, s whistle and guitar playing, Franco De Gemini’s excellent harmonica performances and Edda Dell Orso’s unique aural vocalising, Lacarenza was to make his mark on the western genre and also other movie scores with his inspired and unblemished trumpet playing.  Lacerenza came from a family background that was musical; his Father Giacomo Lacerenza was a well known conductor. Lacerenza came to the forefront of Italian film music when he was asked by composer Ennio Morricone to perform trumpet on “A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS”. The films director Sergio Leone had originally insisted on having Italy’s most prominent trumpet player at that time Nini Rosso to perform on the soundtrack, but Morricone wanted to use Lacerenza because he remembered his flawless performances whilst they were at the music conservatory and has stated since that he wrote the piece with Lacerenza’s trumpet in mind. After playing the films central theme for Leone the great film-maker was said to be reduced to tears because Lacerenza’s performance was so full of emotion. Morricone described him as “A sublime trumpet player” After the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Lacerenza continued his collaboration with Morricone on scores such as A PISTOL FOR RINGO , FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Lacerenza became much in demand and began to perform on many other film soundtracks, it was also at this time that he had a hit record with a cover version of THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (La Casa Del Sole) a song that had been a worldwide hit for British rock band The Animals. Lacerenza’s career went from strength to strength and as well as performing on film scores and collaborating with composers such as Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota and Armando Trovaioli he also began to compose music for the cinema and although his output may not have been immense it was certainly important and original. The Maestro also taught music at the Foggia conservatory of music and the Santa Cecilia Academy.  He died in Rome on November 17th 1989.

EL CHE GUEVARA

Released on BEAT records in 2013.

 

bcm 9513 coverBorn Dominic Colarossi on January 24th 1933 in Rome Italy, composer Nico Fidenco began his career as a vocalist and became a popular singer in Italy during the latter part of the 1950,s through to the 1970,s, it was actually because  the composer had recorded a number of cover versions of theme songs from movies that he decided to become involved in the writing of music for films as the composer recalled.  “When I was singing I did a few cover versions of songs from films, EXODUS, MOON RIVER, SUSIE WONG and WHAT A SKY for example. These recordings were very popular in Italy, and my interest in film music grew from this. So I decided to try and write some material myself, cinema had always attracted me, even when I was younger, and too be part of the cinema world was I suppose a dream come true. The whole process of movie making and production has always interested me. I have in recent years attended a movie player course at “CENTRO SPERIMENTALE DI CINEMATOGRAFA” in Rome. So I am still learning”. Fidenco began composing for film in 1964 when he wrote the score for DESTINATION MIAMI-OBJECTIVE MURDER which was followed by IN THE SHADOW OF A COLT in 1965. It was after this that the composer began to become involved with the scoring of motion pictures on a more regular basis and soon became a much in demand film music composer. Often Fidenco would be called upon to provide music for a film when composers such as Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai were not available and he was responsible for penning numerous soundtracks for Italian westerns when they were at their most popular. His music has graced over 80 motion pictures in a glittering career that has lasted more than 50 years and the music that Fidenco composed back in the 1960,s and 1970,s still remains fresh, vibrant and original to this day and is in demand by the likes of DJ,s and music producers.   Fidenco’s scores for the EMANUELLE series of films are probably his most recognized and acclaimed and the composer himself marks these soundtracks as his best works.  “I have to say that my music to BLACK EMANUELLE is my favourite soundtrack and I also consider this to be my best score”.  It is true to say that Fidenco was and still is a remarkable composer, arranger, performer and vocalist, his soundtracks for the Italian Western genre in particular are outstanding and although many are filled with the now established “SOUND” that is associated with that collective of movies, they were all original and innovative in their own individual way and at the time of their creation set standards and musical guidelines for many other composers at times influencing music in Hollywood produced westerns. During his career Fidenco has worked with many other artists and composers, among these are Alessandro Alessandroni, Nora Orlandi, Franco De Gemini, Edda Dell Orso and has retained a special friendship and collaborative partnership with fellow composer Giacamo Dell Orso.  “It must be at least 35 years or even more now that Giacamo and I have worked together, we still see each other and occasionally do musical things together, but I rarely write for cinema now and spend a lot of time performing recitals on piano in Italy and also in South America”.

 Fidenco received no formal musical education and was a self taught musician often playing by ear. “I simply learnt about music by listening to it, and by being around musicians and singers. I listened and watched, and by doing this I began to pick things up”.  The musical score for EL CHE GUEVARA was originally released on a long playing record on the CAM label (sag 9007) in 1969, which has become something of a rarity. The LP contained 14 tracks which represented Fidenco’s score, this new edition contains all of those cues plus another five tracks, three of  which are alternate instrumental and vocal versions of LA BALLATA DEL CHE or previously unreleased tracks from the score which are source cues.  Composer Nico Fidenco rose wonderfully to the task of scoring this biopic and produced a score that contained many South American flavours and sounds, the composer fusing these components of the score seamlessly with proud and dramatic musical passages, all of which combine to create a soundtrack that embellishes and services the movie well and also manages to stand  alone as an entertaining collection of themes away from the images they were intended to enhance. This is the first time that any of the music from EL CHE GUEVARA has been issued onto compact disc with the exception of a five minute suite which included three or four of the scores principal themes that  was made available on a six compact disc box set that was released to celebrate Nico Fidenco’s 50th anniversary as a composer and performer in 2010. EL CHE GUEVARA is surely one of the composer’s finest scores as it contains so much variety and original sounding writing. Fidenco utilizes a fairly small orchestra but adds choir and rhythmic and booming percussive elements, solo female voice, guitar and martial sounding flourishes to the proceedings, all of which combine to create a work of great worth and one that is above all a pleasurable listening experience.   

 bcm 9513 inlay esternaEL CHE GUEVARA was released in 1968. The film was produced shortly after the death of CHE (Ernesto Guevara de la Serna) in October 1967 following his execution in Bolivia, many critics at the time of the movies release were unhappy with the authenticity of the films storyline. But to be fair to both the films director Paolo Heusch and his production team very little was known of the central character and the events that surrounded his life and background at the time. The screenplay by Adriano Bolzoni was more than likely based upon newspaper articles and other media reports that had been edited and censored, so in effect we were served up a biopic which did not have all the facts to hand because any information that was available was probably either watered down accounts of the truth or even slightly fabricated. Leading actor Francisco Rabal’s depiction of CHE also suffers somewhat from a clear lack of knowledge of his character. While he does do some sterling work in the central role he remains somewhat awkward and at times shallow in his performance. His portrayal of CHE is maybe based more upon the mystery, romance and elusiveness that at the time shrouded the man rather than the actual facts about this rebel with a cause. American actor John Ireland also makes an appearance and gives a credible performance as a correspondent Stuart.  

SABATA.

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Originally released in Italy during the summer of 1969, Sabata did not materialise in UK cinemas until 1971 and when it did finally get a release it was cut by more than 15 minutes. The score for this gimmicky and quirky addition to the spaghetti western genre was the handiwork of Italian maestro Marcello Giombini. At the time of scoring the movie Giombini was relatively unknown and unfortunately was to remain amongst the ranks of so many of the unnoticed and ignored composers that work within the cinema. The score for Sabatahas for many years now been on a number of collectors wish lists to receive a release on CD. The soundtrack was issued originally on vinyl as a single in Italy and Gt. Britain, with an LP being released on a Japanese label in 1972. This pressing also received a re-release a few years later with a slightly different colour scheme, and also an American address on the cover, even though it was actually a Japanese release.
The score is a collection of themes for the films principal characters, and is dominated by the theme for Sabata (Lee Van Cleef), which utilises a jangely electric guitar which is supported by strumming guitar and percussion, which is sprinkled with a Morricone like choir, who every so often half shout half sing,” E Amico Che Saba Ta “. The theme is then taken on by trumpet and embellished with flourishes of harpsichord, guitar and choir. This theme is repeated throughout the work and is heard in varying arrangements and orchestrated for larger orchestra on occasion giving it a more grandiose and dramatic presence. ‘Banjo’ is the theme for one of the storylines other main players, it consists of solo ukulele which fronts the composition and introduces the theme, it then builds into a quite lush and pleasant string orientated theme that could be a love theme rather than a theme for a gunfighter, the composer incorporates a sleigh bell effect into the theme at times, because the character wears bells around his trouser bottoms. The ‘Banjo’ theme is a integral part of the film, as the character which it represents (William Berger) plays his adversaries a tune on his banjo before he proceeds to gun them down, with a cut down rifle that is hidden inside of the banjo. This is yet another example of music playing a major part in the storyline of an Italian western, the integration of the instrument making the score for the film more than just background to the action, but an important and comprehensive part of the movies plot. This practise was exploited more fully in the movies directed by Leone and scored by Morricone, i.e., the chiming watch in For A Few Dollars More and the harmonica in Once Upon A Time In The West. Giombini touches on this in Sabata but maybe not to the degree as exploited by Morricone, although Giombini does manage to achieve the desired effect, creating some interesting moments where film and music work extremely well together. The other main theme in the score is a highly dramatic trumpet led piece written in the style of a slow almost deguello like composition, that is driven by ominous sounding swirling and dramatic strings and slightly subdued percussion that act a foreboding and effective background to the highly charged trumpet solo. The cue ‘Nel Covo Di Stengal’ is a masterful piece of scoring that is synonymous to the style that was employed on the Italian western genre. The remainder of Giombini’s score contains a powdering of saloon piano pieces, which are entertaining and short lived, and a tense and exciting piece which is very similar to ‘Toccata And Fugue’ in its construction and sound.
This release also boasts a vocal version of the Sabata theme, sung in German by, if I am not mistaken, popular vocalist at that time, Peter Boom, the reason that this was included was apparently Sabata was extremely popular in Germany when it was initially released, and the track was discovered in the vaults at GDM. Also included on the disc is the score from The Return Of Sabata, again by Marcello Giombini, this score is slightly more pop orientated, with a title song that is at times not unlike the theme song for another Lee Van Cleef western Captain Apache. Giombini,s efforts on this soundtrack were probably not as inspired or as original as on Sabata but nevertheless The Return Of Sabata does boast an entertaining sounding work by the composer.
The art work for the CD is very eye catching, and utilizes the original poster for Sabata, plus a number of stills are included within the CDs booklet. This is a compact disc that I would recommend to any film music enthusiast, as it evokes memories of an age of film making and film scoring that sadly will never return. Connoisseurs of the western, Italiana, and spaghetti western soundtrack will adore it and return to it many times. Available via Hillside CD Productions in Strood, Rochester Kent.

THE HILLS RUN RED

Released on Quartet records in 2010.

THE HILLS RUN RED.

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After the success of Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and its even more popular sequel FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Italian filmmakers began to see the potential of the western, and marked it as a genre of film that might be able to revitalise the then ailing Italian film industry. An industry which had been left almost depleted after Hollywood film makers had pulled out of Italy and ceased to produce epics such as BEN HUR, SODOM AND GOMORRAH,THE ROBE and their like, after the biblical slanted movie had lost it’s appeal with cinema audiences. Film makers based at the Cinecitta studios started to produce a number of westerns in the style of Leone,s initial Dollar films, attempting to both emulate and mimic the blueprint that Leone had created.

THE HILLS RUN RED (1966) was essentially an Italian western but also contained a number of the trademarks, themes and clichés that had become synonymous with American produced sagebrush saga‘s. This was also the first western produced by the ever industrious filmmaker Dino De Laurentis. Directed by Carlo Lizanni who for this particular project went under the pseudonym of Lee W Beaver. Lizanni is probably best known for directing Hollywood heavyweight actor Rod Steiger in THE LAST DAYS OF MUSSOLINI (1977) and for helming a number of lesser known Italian movies including the marginally successful spaghetti western REQUIESCANT in 1967. He was also responsible for making several films and dramas for Italian television which he excelled at during the 1980,s. The director provides us with some interesting camerawork throughout the movie including a Sergio Corbucci-esque violent and close up fist fight sequence. THE HILLS RUN RED or A RIVER OF DOLLARS (UN FIUME DI DOLLARI) as it had been originally entitled, was released in what can only be referred to as the boom year for the Italian western genre. As it was in 1966 that the spaghetti western really established itself with cinema goers outside of Italy.

Filmed in both Spain and Italy the production boasted a fairly robust cast that included American actors in three of the movies four principal roles, these were, Thomas Hunter, who had only just previous to THE HILLS RUN RED made his screen debut in another European western TRE PISTOLE CONTRO CESARE (DEATH WALKS IN LAREDEO). The seasoned veteran actor Dan Duryea, who had made a name for himself in numerous minor Hollywood motion pictures and American television productions. Plus a spirited and larger than life performance from Henry Silva who turned in a memorable if not a somewhat exuberant and as many critics said at the time an overblown portrayal of the psychotic and cruel Mexican, Mendez. These three performances and the trio of protagonists although being very different all came together and worked well within the films storyline, complimenting and supporting each other, giving the film a more realistic and believable quality.

thomashunter1The movie opens in 1865 at the end of the American civil war, two Confederate soldiers, Jerry Brewster (Thomas Hunter) and Ken Seagall (Nando Gazzolo) steal an army payroll from what was the Northern States army. They are pursued by government troops who soon close in on them, the pair of former rebels quickly hatch a plan that one will jump from the wagon they are travelling in with the money packed into saddle bags and hide, whilst the other draws the attention of the Yankees. They cut cards to see who will stay and who will jump from the wagon and it is Seagall who gets the high card and takes the money and jumps, promising his comrade that he will take care of his wife and son. The plan being that they will meet up afterwards and divide the money. Things don’t go exactly as they hoped and Brewster is captured. After being beaten by his captors he is taken to a prison at the nearby Fort Wilson, where he is locked away for a punishing five years of forced labour and torture. When he is finally released Brewster makes his way back home, but upon arrival at his farm finds his home empty and run down and it is apparent that it has not been lived in for years. He finds a note from his wife Mary that tells him she thinks he has been killed in the war, and how she is struggling to make ends meet, it also explains that his friend Seagall who now calls himself Ken Milton returned from the war with lots of money, but refused to help her in her hour of need.
Seagall has been made aware of Brewster’s release from prison and instructs his foreman Mendez to despatch two of his men to make sure Brewster is killed, but things don’t go to plan thanks to the timely intervention of a stranger who is taking shelter in the barn, Getz (Dan Duryea) helps Brewster by throwing him a pistol with just two bullets in it. Brewster shoots one of his attackers and then fights with the other, eventually killing him with his attackers own knife. Getz tends to Brewster’s wound and together they decide to try and bring about Seagall’s downfall. Brewster convinces Getz that the only way to show Seagall that he is dead is to remove a tattoo from his arm by cutting it off and showing it to Seagall, Getz does this somewhat reluctantly, and takes the tattoo to Seagall, who on seeing it is convinced that Getz is telling him the truth. He is so grateful that he gives Getz a job at his ranch. Brewster goes to town where he has a disagreement with two of Seagall’s men and guns them down in the saloon, he assumes the name of Jim Huston, and it is not long before Mendez tracks him down and after a violent fist fight with a number of Seagall’s thugs, Mendez decides that Brewster/Huston is the kind of man he needs on his side. Brewster receives information that Seagall plans to attack and punish the people of Austin who refuse to bow down to his attempts to take over the city. Brewster travels to Austin and organises the inhabitants into defending themselves, but is himself wounded during the fight with Seagall’s henchman and is nursed back to health by Mary Ann (Nicoletta Machiavelli) who is none other than Seagall’s sister. Seagall finally realises who Brewster is and the two men lock horns in a deadly fight of strength and wills.

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Getz reveals that he is actually a government agent, Colonel Winney Getz, who has been sent to investigate Seagall. Getz joins forces with Brewster in a final shootout against the tyrant and his men, a shootout in which Seagall and the loathsome Mendez are killed. The film reaches its conclusion with Brewster being re-united with his lost son Tim (Loris Loddy) and Getz appointing Brewster as Sheriff of Austin, with the ways of law and order prevailing once again. The mix of both Italian and what can be looked upon as Hollywood western stylisations worked well within this particular example, not only complimenting each other, but fusing together to create an interesting and also entertaining movie. The script by Piero Regnoli (who also worked on Navajo Joe in the same year) although being well paced was however a basic revenge story and not particularly original, and it is probably this factor that prevented THE HILLS RUN RED becoming categorised as one of the genres higher stratum examples.

But, it is still nonetheless one of the better middle ground entries within the spaghetti western collective of movies because of its high production values and also because of the outstanding and realistic performances of its cast and invigorating musical score.
The music for THE HILLS RUN RED was the work of Maestro Ennio Morricone but credited to Leo Nichols which was one of the composers nom de plumes during the early part of his career.( For reasons only known to the composer he tried to veil his involvement with the production.) It was Morricone and director Sergio Leone who were jointly responsible for establishing the sights and also the sounds of the Italian or spaghetti western, together they created what was to become the foundation for 90 percent of western movies and scores which were to follow in the wake of the now classic motion pictures, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Morricone’s soundtrack for THE HILLS RUN RED is somewhat overlooked by many and at times neglected by Morricone fans and also admirers of the genre alike. This is probably because of the success of the composers major works within the genre for movies such as the aforementioned Dollars trilogy and other key works ie: THE BIG GUNDOWN, NAVAJO JOE, DUCK YOU SUCKER, DEATH RIDES A HORSE, A PROFFESSIONAL GUN, THE GRAND SILENCE and THE FIVE MAN ARMY etc.

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The score for THE HILLS RUN RED, relies largely upon a central or principal theme which is repeated throughout the movie in various arrangements, underlining the many chases, brawls and gunfights that occur. The composer also includes a variety of sounds and musical trademarks that he made use of within other scores both before and after scoring THE HILLS RUN RED, ie: Music box effects, jaunty saloon piano interludes and strong thematic properties where he utilises racing percussion that acts as a backdrop to urgent sounding brass flourishes. Female vocalist Gianna Spagnola features prominently within the work also, her distinct voice lending an almost earthy near primal savage rawness to the music, the lament of sorts that she performs creating not only effective atmospheric qualities but also character, strength and appeal to the work. The score also contains a somewhat bitter sweet sounding love song of sorts. “HOME TO MY LOVE” had lyrics by Audrey Nohra,who was to collaborate with Morricone on a number of title songs, the energetic and fast paced RUN MAN RUN for example.She also wrote lyrics for numerous other Italian composers,Franceso De Masi for example, the catchy and up tempo song FIND A MAN from the spaghetti western THE DIRTIEST STORY OF THE WEST had lyrics penned by Nohra and she collaborated with both De Masi and Alessandro Alessandroni on the theme from the now archetypal Italian western score ARIZONA COLT, entitled THE MAN FROM NOWHERE.

5659The music included on this compact disc is taken from album masters, the actual master tapes from the film having been lost or worse, maybe destroyed. The music cues here were first issued on a long playing record on the bootleg label POO during the 1970,s, a label which also issued Morricone’s THE HORNETS NEST and a handful of other hard to find soundtracks by various composers. There was also another long playing record issued of the score utilising the same music tracks which was said to have been produced in New Zealand, this release had different art work. Plus United Artists records in the United Kingdom issued one track from the score on a western compilation during the 1970,s. Since then tracks have appeared on various western compilations and the album version of the soundtrack was released onto compact disc for the first time by FSM in the United States at the end of 2009, but was part of a collection of compact discs and could not be purchased as a single item. The box set contained a number of MGM soundtracks from both the 1960,s and 1970,s HORNETS NEST among them, and although this is a magnificent collection a number of collectors missed out on it because it was a limited edition and sold out very quickly.

 

john Mansell 2010.